Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Fifth Annual Eurovision Rant. Whoop!

So we've made it another year and it's mid to late May. It can mean only one thing:

It's time for the most farcical, talent show in Europe - you might want to check up on your European countries for this. A place were disco never dies. A place were weirdly enough diversity is loved and honoured, and literally anything goes. An event that makes you question every Geography lesson you've ever had. An event that still uses the political 'we hate Britain' slogan when voting for their favourite - though sometimes the British entry is just shite and politics doesn't have to come into it. An event where the most random concepts of staging and choreography can mean you have one singer and an ice skater, followed by an all granny choir, followed by masked vigilantes playing rock. An event that you can't not watch. An event that weirdly enough people outside Europe seem to like.* An event like no other, thank god, could you imagine if there were more of these things? Yes, that's right. You guessed it. It's Eurovision 2015.

*Mainly Australia who have some weird cult following of one of Europe's more bizarre traditions. And as huge fans they've been invited to partake in this year's contest. If they win we're in for an interesting one next year. It'll be on a beach somewhere at 6am Australian time in order for Europe to enjoy it at a reasonable 8pm. But if Australia are now part of Europe, does that mean we get low cost flights? Although. Scrap that. Can you imagine flying Ryanair to Australia? They'd probably charge you for each toilet use and drop you on some island relatively close to Australia - Timor Leste or Papua New Guinea. And heaven forbid if you wanted to take a suitcase with you.

But let's get down to business. Twenty seven acts - roughly twenty that are actually European - are about to compete for.........Some trophy? Pride? (Ha ha, not likely.) For their country to be bankrupt trying to beat this year's expenditure when they put on Eurovision themselves next time? For laughs? For kicks?

Alright, who knows why they do it, but lucky for us, they keep doing it, and all in the name of entertainment........?

Eurovision 2015: Let's go!

So it's an anniversary year, the 60th Eurovision, and I can't help but think of the 75th Hunger Games and the Quarter Quell. But it seems the only thing they did this year was invite Australia. So no teenagers having to kill each other, that's always nice.

A nice Orchestral opening - I feel this could be an Orchestra heavy show. And an all girl quartet of hosts, that aren't in the least bit awkward or wooden. (Obviously Conchita you are the exception to this, and you have the tiniest waist I've ever seen incidentally.)

Eurovision drinking game: Every time they say building bridges: drink!

1. Slovenia
Opening act. Always a tough spot, so they went for ignorant teenager status, refusing to remove their headphones. It's like we're not even bothered, and we're not even listening.

She has that same irritating vocal tick that so many people try to imitate. Bo-ring.  And she's borderline out of tune the whole time because of the thing she's forcing her voice to do. Just stick to your natural voice love, I bet it's miles better.

She's secretly listening to death metal. Whilst he's listening to Weird Al.

Ah, the totally irrelevant dancer. A Eurovision tradition. After thought? The miming violin playing and the outfit just remind me of Kate Bush's staging of her song Violin in her 1979 tour. Totally ripped it off Slovenia. Honestly.

Chords on piano. Is that all he brings to the band? She's totally carrying him.

Lights go crazy along with the wind machine. She's gonna blow away.

Still, not a bad song, but it's unlikely to place well as everyone has already forgotten it. Sorry Slovenia.

2. France

Get the razor blades out straight away.

Lovin' the whoos from the crowd distracting from the mega serious/completely depressive/bleak ballad thing she's got going on.

There is no hope!

Enter a drum corps. Oh no, wait. There's only four of them, the rest are CGI.

The girl can sing, but you don't want to get on the wrong side of her.

Fairly good French song, but unlikely to place well.

3. Israel

Graham's bigging it up, maybe it'll be good?

Bit pitchy, but he does have a broken heart.

Bullshit he's 16!

'Pull me baby I'm your trigger.' Classic lyric.

This is about three songs randomly glued together. Bizarre but strangely crowd pleasing. And they've even got a count down: 3, 2, 1, Hey! Well it is Eurovision.

They gained two more at the end. Multiplying generic dancing boys. Maybe they have a cloning machine or something?

4. Estonia
Shame it started so pitchy from the guy. The girl has a good voice, nice dress and the staging is all a bit sexy. It has a kind of Film noir feel to it. It feels like a crime film, like some one's gonna reveal a gun - a fake gun of course - and bang bang.

I quite like this one.

'Naked and staring at the phone'. Just a snippet of lyrics. I'm not sure why she had to be naked to stare at the phone, but each to their own.

Was that a real tear? Oh he's disappeared. Wait, it was a real tear, she just wiped it away. Wow, it all just got a bit emotional over here.

5. United Kingdom
Oh god, I'm embarrassed. I think this is the first time in a few years that I've genuinely cringed the entire way through the British entry.

Trying to make it all 20s and flappers and Gatsby, but then there's all this weird robotic, electro stuff going on. And lighty up costumes. Tacky!

Hen night in Blackpool?

She can't move at all. Is she pregnant? The lyrics are all, 'everybody dance', but they aren't. No wonder they had to hire some dancers.

The attempt at jazz vocally bit coupled with the glowing costumes made me want to vomit.

And the ending made it feel like a badly staged musical performed by a high school.

Oh dear Britain. Not even close.

6. Armenia
It's definitely got that Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones thing going on.

Six singers in order of when they sang solo:
  1. I'm too nice for my own good. 
  2. I'm an opera singer, I'm not sure how they persuaded me to do this.
  3. I interrupt. 
  4. I enunciate. My use of staccato is incredible. 
  5. I'm the pretty one. (No, wait, we're all incredibly beautiful.)
  6. I'm the other guy. 
Nice head band/ head dresses ladies. Me want.

That wind machine is working over time tonight.

Winter is coming. Right now!

Perhaps a little too political to make it, but some good voices that blend well on the harmonies.

7. Lithuania
Bright sunshine. Everything is so lovely and bright and sunny. (Bit of a difference from what came before it. )
It's just all so happy. *vomit*

'Round and round' whilst we spin each other round and round. Wow, they really get symbolism.

He didn't want to let go of that kiss.

Both good voices. Nice harmonies.

Get a freakin' room!

Oh no, speaky bits. 'If you feel the love put your hands in the air.' No! On principal.

And now they're going off for a shag.

8. Serbia
Big is beautiful! Equality. Diversity. This year's Conchita. And a skeleton cast of Les Miserables turned up with flags. Yay. 'Do you hear the people sing....'

'I'm different and it's okay.' Very blatant lyrics, but still a good message, even if it is rammed home.

This is sooooooo Eurovision and she's got a set of pipes on her. And with that dance beat to it, it'll be in all the clubs this summer. 'Here I am!'

I expect this to do well.

9. Norway
A Ballad. The opening could have done with some contemporary dancers expressing the song through many arm gestures. They missed out there.

The guy was okay. Quite a good voice, nothing spectacular. Then the flame haired woman enters and you think, wow, this could be really good. But then it just wasn't. With a title like, 'Monster like me', I felt I didn't get what was advertised. I wanted drama and shouting and power and rage.

The choreography consisted of  pacing back and forth. Again they should have sprung for a couple of dancers.

And just to clarify, who was the monster? Him? Her? Both of them?

Bit boring Norway. Sorry.

10. Sweden
The bookies favourite, which means I already resent it. 

Interesting staging, but it's when his hand returns to the dark between his legs that makes me wonder: what's he up to?

He's so cool, he fist bumps animated men.

Not sure the animation has anything to do with the actual song.

It was fine. He's a bit sprightly for my liking, but it's a catchy pop song and I'm sure a few men and women out there are drooling over him.

11. Cyprus
Just a nice song. A nice voice. A bit 90s pop ballad, not that there's anything wrong with that.

No gimmicks. Just stars and lights. They just need some backing vocalists to come on and click their fingers whilst swaying.

End of a Disney film? You know what I mean. It's when they have a version of a song from the film sung by fairly well known people, that make it really cheesy. Think Celine at the end of Beauty and the Beast and you'll know what I mean.

12. Australia
Wow! What a voice! Well done Australia. You actually made an effort. You sent someone really good. Australia to win!

I'm not sure what the feck the token woman thinks she's wearing, but this is a damn good song.

This will be a killer for the wedding season. Come on function bands, you need this in your repertoire.

His voice is insanely good. I was singing along by the end of it. Love it!

13. Belgium
The boy can sing!

I like this. The simple staging. The amazing vocals. The fact that the song is actually interesting.

Good melody. A bit epic. And a Britney dance routine. Yes, yes, yes.

Now he's lying on the floor and singing. Why not?

Bit of a robotic feel to the staging too, but I love this! Go Belgium!

14. Austria
Sounds like a million other songs. I question the copyright. Surely it's completely plagiarising someone?

Some nice real instruments though. Wait. What? He just set fire to his piano. What a wanker. That's fookin' dangerous. Fire safety is no laughing matter Austria.

He vacated the raging piano fire pretty sharpish. Arsonist! Arsonist!

Well we've passed the half way line. Whoop! And all I can say at this point is: Conchita's waist is tiny. (By the way I do realise I'm using more than my fair share of exclamation marks, but I feel that Eurovision needs them more than others.)

15. Greece
'They look like washed up TV presenters.' Direct quote from the Flat 19 couch, courtesy of A.

There's just so much emotion in this song!

Political? Is that not a Euro in the background, in lights? One last breath in the EU?

Cue the wind machine. Turn it on higher. Come on.

It wreaks of Celine. Oh, and a key change. Yes.

Aww, she really tried though, didn't she.

16. Montenegro
The violinist is cross. She's pissed. Oh I get it, he's their pimp.

Seedy red light part way through, they're in the brothel. No, they're escorts that's all. Honest.

Beautiful choreography: knee lift, skip, twirl around. My music classes do better and they're all under five.

A lot of angry looking women on the stage, though it does make sense, I mean, who likes their pimp?

Well...........that was.............?

17. Germany
She sings the word 'me', exactly like Britney. I'm not sure this is a good thing. 'Maay'

The opening is all about the ass. Black cat suit. Pretty lady. But I'm not sure what this song is. Kinda, Whinehouse wannabe?

Simple staging, lots of ladies and good backing vocals, but I'm not sure it's Eurovision worthy or particularly any good. Sorry Germany. I love your country though.

18. Poland
The lady's in a wheelchair, so of course twitter went silent at this point.

How many pianos must they have backstage #eurovisionmusings

With the graphics and some of the lyrics you could have thought you'd walked onto a Febreeze advert.

Another big ballad, and well done to her. Bit of a change from last year's milk maids.

19. Latvia
Interesting voice straight away. Big dress. The first of the really big dresses this year. There haven't been much in the way of outrageous outfits this year. But anyway, go Latvia.

This girl can sing! And has a very interesting look, and the staging is simple and effective and all my favourite colours: red, black, white.

I like this a lot. It's big and epic and she has an incredible voice.

I feel like a need a glow stick or three.

Well done Latvia.

20. Romania
Nice voice. Nice song. Maybe a little too nice.

You ain't gonna win with that.

It was at this point that I realised there hadn't been too much in the way of gimmicky stuff this year. The completely weird and wonderful seemed to have been replaced with huge ballads and political statements. I can't decide if this is merely an observation, or a slight disappointment?

21. Spain
Little Red Sparkly Riding Hood. Make sure you get yourself untangled from the semi naked man before you pull a Madonna.

Oh no, he's gonna do it, he's gonna yank off your cape and possibly yank you off your feet.

He's the big bad wolf. And now she's Xena the Warrior Princess at prom.

I'm holding her up by her thighs.

We can see your knickers.

Is this really one of the bookies favourites? Is it actually any good? Another ballad.....I feel like Eurovision's gone Grammys on me.;postID=5768044576086944457;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=11;src=postname

22. Hungary
First line, 'Do you know our world is in a mess?'

Oh it's one of those. Preachy and pitchy, especially the lower notes.

Nice harmonies though. The main singer is tiny.


23. Georgia
Now this is more like it. Finally a gimmick. Goth girl. Or maybe Skellig. Or Crow girl.

Too much lighting and little overdone with the smoke machine too. She actually disappeared in a couple of shots. The lights were overwhelming, it was hard to look at the screen.

And that wind machine worked it's ass off tonight. Well done.

Weirdly likable.

She's a member of the Night's Watch. She's Jon Snow's new lover. He digs the hot pants and boots, but if winter really is coming, she might need a coat.

All due respect to her though, she owns that outfit and she owns that stage. And she has a damn powerful voice. I quite like this.

24. Azerbaijan
It's Johnny Bravo dancing. No wait, he's a slave from Meereen - what is it with the Game of Thrones references tonight?. No, I've got it, he's an Unsullied. Johnny Bravo is an Unsullied.

Yay! Distracting dancers. There haven't been enough of those this year. The girl dancer almost fell over. Intentional?

Another intense ballad though. He's really intense. In fact I think a few girls probably have restraining orders against him. Look at the eyes.

25. Russia
She really does believe. She's shaking.

There's been quite a few plunging neck lines tonight.

The intensity. Her face is on the verge of breaking. Oh my god she's blubbing her eyes out.

Whilst I appreciate the girl can sing. I don't really appreciate being power blasted with sound. There was no cadence to this, no dynamic differences, nothing special, but as one of the bookies favourites, I'm sure it'll do well.

26. Albania
She looks a bit like a friend of mine. Her boobs are barely in. Keep an eye on that.

Pitchy, pitchy, pitchy as fuck.

I don't know what this is. If in doubt, key change.

Oh dear.

27. Italy
They look cute. Nice glasses.

It's sooooo Italian. That coiffed hair and designer facial hair. All they need are some vespers and an espresso each, and the stereotypes are fulfilled.

The Three (Younger) Tenors?

Oh no, he didn't. The wink into the camera. No. Please no!

It was fine, but a little bit obvious really. Nothing special. Sorry Italy, you are the joint home country of Flat 19, but I wasn't particularly impressed. Still it was miles better than that sorry attempt at a UK entry. Oh my.

Well there you have it Rants has spoken. I felt there weren't enough gimmicks this year. Not that many fashion gaffs either. I mean, where are the token rock bands, or the milk maids and, hold the phone, there was no disco this year. Eurovision. What happened?

Okay, so the Rants top three - in no particular order - are:

Two other notables for me were Georgia and Estonia.

The half time entertainment was absolutely shit hot! I love watching percussionists, they are so talented. The Xylophone playing was amazing. (To the people on Twitter referring to it as a Glockenspiel, please learn your instruments. Glockenspiel's are made of metal, Xylophones made of wood. Come on, the kids I teach know that.) Well done Austria for putting on a great half time show.

With the usual awkward fills and uncomfortableness of trying to make what's written on the autocue interesting, we were finally up to The Voting.
Montenegro: Massive earrings.
Malta: Gave UK one point. Thank you, it may be the only one. But why the heck are they giving Azerbaijan points? It was crap.
Finland: What is it with the plunging necklines?
It is all so awkward.
Portugal: Technical fault.
Blah, blah, blah. Skip a few.
Estonia: 'We lost Estonia.' It's 2015, can't they figure out how to work Skype?
Belgium: Sleaze. 'Hello Ladies.' Ew.
Armenia: It's just so cringe worthy.
Ireland: Thanks for the point (UK).
Germany: The dodgiest comment so far: 'Three and half ladies.' Whoa, you can't be saying that Germany.
Australia: Come on. I thought you might have taken pity on us, but not even a point. Fuck you, Australia.
Austria: She's there with 25 fans. Hmmm, are you sure love? 'Vienna is partying hard', what with all it's 25 fans?
Hungary: I love how the presenter has to keep hurrying people along. 'We'd love to hear your votes.' Subtext. Get a bloody move on.
UK: Yay! Nigella. We love you. She got a big cheer, and she looked very Queenly didn't she? No plunging neck line today. All business. And a nice display of her language skills.
Georgia: Oh, we've lost them. Another one bites the dust.
The Netherlands: So many boobs out tonight. What is that dress?
Blah, blah, blah.
San Marino: Yay, they gave us three points. We have gone ahead of France.
Norway: She has liquorice allsorts on her shoulders. She's a lunatic.

Well there you have it, A Sweden win, with Russia second and Italy third. My top three came fourth, fifth and sixth, so I'm chuffed with that. And well, UK 5 points. Not good, but it could have been worse.....France, Germany and Austria. Oops. Thank you San Marino for those three points, meaning we at least finished above France. Who knew we had allies in San Marino?

Well that's it for another year. From fembot hosts, to intense ballads and some interesting staging, this year has been a bit of an up and down one. Nothing overtly outrageous. But let's hope that will be rectified next year.

Thank you for reading, this longer than long blog. It's a Rants tradition and one I love doing. I hope you enjoyed Eurovision. Feel free to message or comment in whatever form you can about your favourites etc. And quite frankly Australia you can come every year if you bring that! Good job. Perhaps you could write us a song or lend us an act for next year? Please.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday Rants

So it seems I forgot my own blogaversay. Rants was a whopping 4 years old on the 9th May, and it completely passed me by. Shocking behaviour. I feel the blog is now judging me like a wife whose lazy husband can't remember her birthday or something.

Ironically, I actually blogged the day before said anniversary, having no idea that it was the day before the anniversary. And, the day after said anniversary a defect on the hinge of my laptop (Albus) caused the screen to shatter. Karma? I think so.

Well you've made your point, Mistress Blog. I have had to leave Albus once again in the hands of people that don't really want to repair him and I am without him for as long as they deem necessary to report on the manufacturing fault and decide whether or not to repair or replace him. *sob* (These things are particularly stressful for someone who can't deal with change, names her gadgets and gets ridiculously attached to them.)

And now I'm left attempting to write this blog on an old Samsung notebook that has a nervous breakdown if you ask it to scroll down, and which has a three second delay on everything you do. You click a button and it thinks about it, I mean, really thinks about it, and if you're lucky it will eventually do it, but sometimes a window opens up saying, 'Whoa it's too much, I can't keep up with you. I'm tired. Leave me alone.' (Or something similar.) Anyhoo, it's slow going. I miss Albus.

And so Rants, you are now 4 years old, and I think it's safe to say we've been through a lot together. Every tube journey, every training run, every music class you're there gathering rants and using your rant radar to conjure up the next installment. Every YA event, book fair and music concert you're observing and reviewing. And every award ceremony (watched on the TV of course) and the annual Eurovision blog you are at your most sarcastic and cynical. You have never deserted me. And so I salute you and this blog and look forward to the coming year - when of course I will remember your fifth birthday.........I hope.

A big shout out to the readers. Without you we may have to ponder the question: If you rant and no one hears, have you really ranted or are you just a nut case?



Friday, May 8, 2015

Notes from a Political Dim Wit

Okay, so the big news today is of course that the map of the UK is way too blue. It looks like forty percent of the country just sank. (I'm not sure what my train will be travelling on tonight.) And various MP's and Party Leaders have jumped ship.

Now as a self-confessed Political Dim Wit, writing a blog on the General Election could be a huge mistake. I feel I don't understand enough. I feel I don't have a right to make comments as I don't know what the feck I'm talking about. And yet, getting up this morning and reading people's comments and seeing the graphs and statistics and looking at the numbers, I can't help but feel a sense of loss. A certain sadness. And a certain unease.

I'm the kind of person who has so much going on in her head that sometimes I find it easier to take a step back and detach myself from the world, otherwise I'm not sure I'd ever get anything done. And I'm not sure I'd necessarily want to wake up in the morning.

Last night I tried to ignore what was happening. I'd made my vote by post a week ago, so the day was nothing more than a long day doing two different jobs and being exhausted. My evening on the couch watching Netflix and playing back to back games of Patience, was my wind down. Perhaps I should have been watching the UK slowly sink. Perhaps I should have been involved in the shock, surprise and outrage. But I'm glad I waited till this morning, at least I managed to sleep well.

But this strange loss and sadness and unease, is somehow balanced with hope. I can't believe it's the end of the world as we know it. I can't believe that we're somehow going to slip into a YA Dystopian novel. But I do believe that we are a nation of survivors and that shitty things happen but we can fight against it. If it does turn into the Hunger Games, then let's revolt. Let's have ourselves an up rise! But there are lots of people threatening to move out of the Country which would then leave the Country in the hands of the people that made this happen, giving very little chance for change. If the people who didn't want this, give up, then the baddies will always win.

And if we do give up, how can we ever instigate change in the future? Yes we'll have five years of this government, but we still have the power to make a difference. Otherwise you could question why small political parties such as Green or Independent, even bother, when they must know they're not going to win their seat. But they keep campaigning, and they keep trying to change things and trying to offer hope. And we as the people of Britain have to keep doing that too. Keep voting, keep making your thoughts known. Keep fighting for what you believe in, because lying down and just taking it, is not my style. People beat you down and you fight back, in whatever way works for you.

Maybe deep inside me there is a little political monster, lurking, hiding, previously scared to voice her opinions, or even have an opinion. And maybe it took a day like today for me to realise that, but come on people, Dystopian's are horrible, but we love them. And why do we love them? Maybe because there are always survivors and there are always people who fight against and rise up against the powerful. Hopefully we won't have to do it with brute strength and physical violence as I have no upper body strength and haven't thrown a genuine punch ever, but on second thoughts maybe we should up the Archery programmes in schools, just in case. Katniss is awesome with a bow and arrow. Plus it's all very Robin Hood. Ooo. We could add survival classes to the curriculum. I digress.

I just think that things could always be worse. I am thankful we are not under a dictatorship like some places in the world. I am thankful that we live in a nation where women can vote and can be elected as MPs and one day Prime Minister - come on ladies I know someone out there is dying for the job. I am also thankful that the amount of female MPs is on the increase - around 30% this election - going up slowly, but heading in the right direction. I am thankful, so thankful and happy that the Green's kept their seat in Brighton. I was really hoping for them to gain my constituencies vote too, from Holborn St Pancras, but even under a defeat in Camden the Greens are happy and hopeful for the future because their support has shot up. Maybe next time guys.

I do worry about the amount of UKIP votes, but then am pleased that only equates to 1 seat. That party scares the crap out of me, as one of my main joys in life would be if everyone could get along and if prejudice and all the isms could be wiped out. I do realise my extreme naivety, don't worry.

Wouldn't it be interesting if we had speed politics instead, and a Prime Minister and their government only ran for a year or two years? That way they'd have to be concise and fast acting otherwise they'd be sure to be ousted at the next election. That way, when smaller parties are gaining momentum, they would only have to campaign over a shorter spell and might make some surprise results. Everyone would have to be on their toes and there would always be this looming threat of being chucked out. Ha ha. I'm sure there are millions of ways this would be terrible, was just an idea. But five years is a heck of a long time.

Okay, it's probably time for me to skoot now. As I've demonstrated, I know nothing, except that there is always a sprinkling of hope. If you are going to declare that by this new government we are entering a YA dystopian future then there has to be a pin prick of light. So let's focus on those pin pricks and concentrate on breaking through the darkness.

On the Prime Minister's speech, I can't help thinking that in his head he was singing, 'Na, na, na, na, na. I won all on my own. Ha ha.' I also imagine him in flannel pyjamas jumping on his bed, sticking his tongue out making raspberry noises. Just an image I thought I'd leave you with.

Man, sometimes I wish Hugh Grant was Prime Minister like in Love Actually, making speeches about David Beckham and Harry Potter.


Friday, May 1, 2015


So, I've just been to the bank to pay in a cheque and a guy really ticked me off. So much so that the rest of my Kentish Town outing, became the fastest errand running ever - rage speed.

So I always use the automated machines for making a deposit, because ain't nobody got time for queuing up to the one cashier who's working, half an hour before they close for the weekend. But it's a tiny branch, so they just have this one high table, which acts as a resting place to write out paying in slips and also as a place to queue.

As I wasn't in the queue, I went around the other side - you know courtesy to the other people - and I filled in my slip. Then in walks two guys and one of them enquires as to if this is the queue. I mean stupid question to start off with, there's nowhere else to queue, but then he realises that and shuts up. Then the other guy says, 'Well some people seem to be doing it wrong,' clearly aimed at me. I thought, no I shouldn't respond, but then, wait a minute, he just called into question my ability to queue. Whoa! As a British citizen I find that highly offensive. Queuing is built into my DNA. With your ability to crawl is your ability to queue. When you finally learn to walk, you get to queue standing up. I mean, whoa!

So I looked at him, gave him the pissed off look and said, 'I'm actually using the machine.'
He replied with, 'It's alright.' And the universal hand gesture for calm down, which all men really should know better than to use on riled up women.

If he hadn't been borderline elderly, I might have hit him back with another retort, but you know what, I was also brought up with manners. Shame he wasn't.

It really is the little things that can tick you off the most.

Have a fun Friday. And here are two Friday Facts to remember:

  1. Don't tell women to calm down, 
  2. Don't question a British person's ability to queue.